Jack Howell’s welcome-back gift upon his return from vacation was an eight-run first inning.
The Burlington Bees manager laughed when asked about how big that start was in Tuesday’s 9-0 rain-shortened win over the Quad Cities River Bandits at Community Field.
“Shouldn’t even have to explain that one,” he said, smiling. “It’s a delight.”
Howell, taking his four-day break while Los Angeles Angels field coordinator Chad Tracy managed the team in a weekend series against Kane County, came back to see 12 Bees come to the plate in the first inning. The first seven batters reached base, knocking Quad Cities starter Matt Ruppenthal (2-2) from the game.
“Obviously getting off to a big lead like that … eight is a little unrealistic, but boy, you’ll take them,” Howell said.
Jordyn Adams led off the inning with a walk, extending his on-base streak to 10 games. Kevin Maitan singled, then Francisco Del Valle doubled to score Adams. Nonie Williams followed with a two-run single.
The next three hitters — Spencer Griffin, Justin Jones and Harrison Wenson — walked, bringing in another run for a 4-0 lead. Quad Cities reliever Layne Henderson struck out Alvaro Rubalcaba, but Fitzsimons answered with his home run to center field.
Howell said there had been times in the first half when the Bees would start an inning strong, but only get a couple of runs.
“Those eight runs were a couple of walks, a couple of hits, a couple of walks, a couple of hits,” Howell said. “And then the big blow.
“This was a neat thing where the inning didn’t get away from us. We tacked on.”
And Howell was pleased that was an additional run in the second, when Jones singled in Williams.
“So, not only do we get eight, but then we add on in the next inning,” Howell said.
All of this was more than enough for Bees pitcher Kyle Tyler (3-0), who allowed four hits and two walks in five innings.
Tyler threw 78 pitches, 47 for strikes.
“We told him to pound the zone, and he did,” Howell said.
Quad Cities had runners on second and third in the second and fifth innings, but couldn’t score.
After Austin Dennis’ flyout to center field to end the fifth, the umpires cleared the field as a thunderstorm approached. The game was called off 40 minutes later.
ON DECK: The two teams play a 6:30 p.m. game on Wednesday. Bees starter Hector Yan (2-2) will face Quad Cities’ Jose Alberto Rivera (2-3).
NOTES: The Bees had several roster moves since Sunday’s game. First baseman/designated hitter D.C. Arendas and pitcher Cristopher Molina were promoted to High-A Inland Empire. Infielder Morgan McCullough, the Angels’ 22nd-round draft pick earlier this month, and pitcher John Cain were assigned to the Bees’ roster. … Williams has hit in six of his last seven games, going 8-for-26 (.308) in that stretch. … Adams is batting .333 in his last 10 games. … Attendance was 531.
Photo: Bees manager Jack Howell (right) congratulates Connor Fitzsimons after his first-inning grand slam. Photo courtesy of Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees